Challenger leads Stagner in fundraising for North Raleigh council seat

ccampbell@newsobserver.comSeptember 13, 2013 

— Political newcomer Wayne Maiorano has raised more money than incumbent Raleigh City Councilman Randy Stagner in the hotly contested District A race.

Campaign finance records released last week show the race is attracting more donations on both sides than any other City Council race. In some of the other contests, incumbents have amassed tens of thousands of dollars while their challengers report a few hundred.

Aside from Mayor Nancy McFarlane – who’s pulled in $148,218 – Maiorano has the largest war chest going into the race’s final month. His fundraising total stands at $50,394. Stagner has raised $38,225, though much of it has come from a $20,000 loan he provided his campaign.

“The support that we are getting is amazing,” Maiorano said. “I think folks are concerned about decisions that are being made (by the city council), whether we’re exercising thoughtful leadership, and they are supporting in any way they know how.”

Stagner sees the interest in the race a little differently. “In North Raleigh, it’s a simple case of neighborhoods versus developers,” he said in an email. “I've worked hard for neighborhoods. My opponent has worked hard for developers. That’s the interest.”

A review of campaign donations shows that Maiorano has received $16,000 – one-third of his total – from developers, real estate brokers and development-related professionals such as architects. Stagner has received $3,000 from the same category of donors – about 16 percent of his total so far.

Stagner did not respond to multiple requests for a phone interview to discuss the campaign further. He has not agreed to a phone interview with The News & Observer in months.

Maiorano’s campaign has been critical of the current council’s decision to fire City Manager Russell Allen, take a hands-on role in city operations and conduct the search for a new city manager behind closed doors.

Thanks to the fundraising success, Maiorano has been able to tout that message through direct mailings – even including copies of a Governing magazine story critical of the city leadership – as well as cable commercials, Facebook and other social media campaigns.

“We’re trying to use the money wisely and thoughtfully, but at the end of the day, we very much recognize that District A is the mayor’s home base, and she has been very supportive of Randy,” Maiorano said.

Maiorano is a registered Republican, and his campaign has help from GOP strategists such as Chris Sinclair. But Maiorano says he has bipartisan support, and a review of his 10 top donors found that four are registered Democrats.

“I have never voted party or politics,” he said. “That’s the way I’m running this campaign.”

Here’s how fundraising is going in other city races:

Mayor: McFarlane is pulling in more financial support than she did two years ago, and she hasn’t loaned herself any money this time. Her total stands at $148,218, dwarfing challengers Venita Peyton ($500) and Robert Weltzin ($350).

Transportation bond: Friends of the Transportation Bond Committee hasn’t filed a report yet this month, but the group had $2,100 on Aug. 9 – much of that being seed money from McFarlane’s campaign account.

District B: Newcomer Brian Fitzsimmons, a Democrat, leads incumbent John Odom with $2,609 raised to Odom’s $1,700. A third candidate, Sam Smith, has raised $300.

District C: Southeast Raleigh has the smallest fundraising totals of the council races, with incumbent Eugene Weeks leading challengers with $1,300 in the bank. Marcus Hill has raised $138, all of it donated himself. Racquel Williams hadn’t filed an updated report last week, but she had $633 in July.

District D: Incumbent Thomas Crowder has raised significantly more than he did two years ago, pulling in $20,670 so far. Challenger Jim Kemp Sherron reports a campaign total of $5,028.

At-large: Incumbents have a massive fundraising lead in these two races, with Russ Stephenson reporting $46,077 and Mary-Ann Baldwin garnering $30,325. Challenger Rob Williams raised $500, and Jason Spriggs raised $250.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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